Breaking Booties (By Oleta Renee)

You’ve seen me in them multiple times this week, and yes, it’ll keep happening… It’s the same comment every time. “Aw, that dog has little shoes!”

There are two problems with this… no, three.

  • 1. They are called booties, not “little shoes’. I make this distinction because
  • 2. ‘Little shoes’ sounds cute. They are not cute. It’s easy to become confused, I’m sure, considering my high level of fashionality, but they are part of the job. They protect my paws in extreme temperatures (both hot and cold), and from salt and chemicals on the road in freezing conditions.
  • 3. Also, they are highly uncomfortable. We dogs are built much sturdier than you humans, and while getting salt stuck between your paw pads or dancing on street corners because of the heat is definitely unpleasant, I almost prefer it to wearing such a ridiculous form of attire. During booty season, Shea is fond of telling me, “Oleta, it’s really not that bad. I wear shoes every day!” But here’s the thing… I don’t!
  • Admittedly, there is one slight benefit to wearing booties. They give me all kinds of traction… which means wherever I want Shea to go, she goes. Now, I don’t take advantage of this very often. Usually, it’s helpful to keep both of us from sliding on ice, and so much more fun than slipping around on the slick tile in those college buildings of ours… at dinner time though… we’re goin’ home, and with my four-paw drive, there’s not much Shea can do about it. Hey, don’t judge me… this is a give and give relationship. Shea gives me booties, I give her attitude. Fair is fair.

    That said, booties are part of guide work, and I love my job, so as much as I detest them, I will keep wearing them for the sake of keeping Shea safe… don’t tell Shea I said that though.

    P.S.
    The title of this post is, yes, a play on the show title “Breaking Bad’, because my chosen career is so bachelor of arts (BA) in general, but it’s really more about my sincere desire to actually break my booties. Just thought I should clarify. Until next time, over and out.

    Ponderings With Oleta Renee: Saying Yes to Less Stress

    Shea is worried about her visa, and it’s proving very distracting for her.  She was too busy Thursday morning sending an email to the British consulate to give me breakfast at the proper time… (And for your future reference, when stress gets the best of breakfast, it’s become much too serious and there must be an intervention… or at least some kibble).  In any case, while I was waiting for my food, I thought I’d explore this topic of stress a bit further.

    Being a guide dog can be stressful.  I’ve got a lot to worry about.  Why?  Because the entire success of my job depends on my ability to keep my mom alive and uninjured on a daily basis.  That’s a big responsibility!

    And the thing is, it’s not like we’re dancing through fields of daisies every day kind of protection.  It’s like, “there is a giant bus coming straight for us and I have to get us out of the way now!” kind of protection.  Yeah!  And you thought you had worries!

    Still, traffic checks have been so drilled into me that I deal with those situations with pure instinct.  I don’t have time to worry.  It’s a split second decision to figure out how to keep us breathing, and whatever that looks like, I do it.  There are other aspects of my life and career that worry me more.  It’s those times when Mom is on the floor sobbing hysterically about the horrors of sophomore year (and they are horrifying.  We’ll tell you about them sometime), or when she is on the floor comforting someone else sobbing hysterically about the horrors of sophomore year, or when she ends up in the hospital for two and a half days for emergency surgery (yep, that happened)

    On a slightly less catastrophic scale though, there are those moments when Shea and I are traveling in an unfamiliar area, and Shea gives me confusing directions (because she doesn’t know where she’s going.  If she would just let me take the leash I’d be where we needed to go in no time)… or when she tells me to find the piano in a room full of people watching us (for juries and other performances.  Seriously, you have no idea how much pressure that is).

    Of course, in all of those situations, it’s not just me that’s worried… it’s Shea as well, and with a relationship as close as our’s, it’s a given that her emotions are my emotions, and vice versa.  That’s two times the stress, folks.  In dog therapy circles that’s called “unhealthy”.

    But there is Good News.  Amidst all this worry, there is a God, a sovereign King, the ultimate pack leader who cares deeply about us, and our stress levels.  In the book of Psalms (Psalm 55:22) God’s Word tells us to “Cast your burden on the Lord , and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.”

    In First Peter 5:6-7, we are reminded to, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”

    Whether you are guiding your blind owner on a busy city street, overwhelmed with school work, fretting for a loved-one in the hospital, performing on a stage, waiting for a decision on a visa application that will decide the fate of your mission trip, your worries have not gone unnoticed.  God knows our troubles, and He wants us to place them in his hands, because He loves us.  He does not want us to be burdened with the cares of the Earth, but focussed on the joys of Heaven.

    So God’s asking us to trust Him.  He wants to bless us with the gift of less stress… and I guess it’s time we said yes.

    A PLEDGE (By Oleta Renee)

    Greetings!  Long time no write for me.  My paws were beginning to itch.  Glad to be back in the blogasphere!

    If you have been following this blog since our first mission trip last year, you will know that once we arrived in Scotland, our blog posts became a bit spotty, and by that I mean, nonexistent.  Keep in mind that’s not really my fault… Shea is the one that controls the computer, not me.

    Still, out of gratitude for your marvelous support, we both want to share this journey with you in the most vivid, special way possible.  This is why this year, we are making a specific commitment to you, our readers, sponsors, and prayer warriors.  Provided that we can raise our designated missions costs for this summer, we are pledging to keep up-to-date with much more frequent posts (as daily as possible) describing our day-to-day activities, experiences, and newly gained knowledge.  This probably also means I will be writing a lot more often, because Shea is a serious perfectionist in her writing, and does not like to publish anything if it’s anything less than her best.  While I admire this quality in her to an extent, I also acknowledge that sometimes practicality beats perfection.  DO I apply the same principle in my guide work?  Well, only sometimes, but in my writing?  Certainly.

    So, prepare to paws more often to ponder posts from your pal, Oleta Renee.

    To help make this pledge possible, you can visit this link:::

    http://rpmissions.org/donate

    to give online.  Don’t forget to check the “Responding to a specific need” checkbox and put Shea’s name and our trip location “Airdrie, Scotland” in the textfield.

    Thank you!

    Need Some Expert Testemony? (By Oleta Renee)

    Wow… It’s been a while, but Shea is currently working on a speech, and ignoring me I might add, so I thought I might contribute to the blog, since she’s been such a terrible blog authoress (blauthoress? I like it.) She’s been a terrible blauthoress, so I’m lending a paw to the cause.
    The speech on which she is currently working happens to be on the subject of guide dogs, a subject on which I happen to be well versed. Her professor is always talking about how one should have “expert testimony” to support their claims. She is concerned, because she was crazy this week with midterms and didn’t have time to call and interview a guide dog trainer as she wanted to do, but I think she is missing a crucial detail here. SHE literally lives with an expert on guide dogs and guide dog training! Hello… why bother calling a human guide dog trainer when you can just interview the guide dog? Sometimes Shea makes no sense!
    So, I just wanted to let you guys know, if you ever need some expert testimony on guide dogs, I would be more than pleased to offer my expertise.
    Professionally,
    Oleta Renee

    Scotland Trip: Scottish Food, Floors, and Violence (By Oleta Renee)

    Mom asked me to write this post tonight, as she says she’s exhausted, and needs her beauty rest for tomorrow… and I don’t? That’s alright though, as she’s not let me write in quite a while.  I’ll pick up the story where Shea left off.

    So, Saturday… we finally got off the flying machine at around 9:30 that morning.  I was glad to finally get up, as I’d been curled in the same position for about 6 and a half hours on a barely carpeted floor.  Honestly, the least they could do is provide a cushion or something, or maybe just include built in beds for we canine passengers.  Why not?  They provide humans with seats after all.

    Anyway, when we got out, the friendly immigration staff (Mom says that’s an oxymoron) gave me some water, and a lot of attention.  I don’t know what Shea’s talking about.  They were beyond civil toward me.  We waited around for a bit, then went to a room where a man scanned my micro chip and check my papers, to make sure I’m not a criminal, and we finally headed outdoors.  The air was cool and crisp, nothin like the hot, sticky air we had left behind in Maryland.  We got in a little car, and Shea tried to convince me not to sit next to her on the seat; she was not successful, as usual.  Car floors are dirty, cramped, loud, and uncomfortable; the only possible benefit lies in the possibility of food left by previous passengers.  I caught a nap while Shea chatted with the two people in the front of the cvar, Beth, our hostess, and Patrick, our team leader.  When we finally arrived at Beth’s flat, as they call it (which I don’t understand because it’s definitely not flat, you even have to go up stairs to get there!), and put down our things in our room.  I immediately got to work (this is a mission trip after all) cleaning her kitchen and living room floors.  

    After a shower and a baked potato for Shea, we settled down for another nap, which for Shea turned out to be five hours long.  Can that be considered a nap?  That evening, we walked to the church for a prayer meeting for the unsaved.  There, we met two more people with funny accents, (there seem to be a lot of those around here), the church pack leader, as it were, and one of the elders.  Thankfully, the room we were in was carpeted, and I fell asleep again.  Traveling is an exhausting business.

    Sunday we woke up at a relatively reasonable hour, though Shea woke up before me, which will not be happening again.  We went to the church for a morning bible study, prayer meeting, and worship service.  There were lots of new people, and a few asked if they could give me a “clap”, which apparently translates to “pet” in English.  Either way, I got lots of them from people in the congregation, especially the kids, or, as someone called them, the weans (pronounced wanes).  Human language is fascinating.

    After church, we headed over to a friend’s flat, which was also not flat, and I cleaned her floors too while Shea, Beth, Patrick, and several people from the church had a home-cooked meal.  Apparently it was delicious,, steak pie.  Shea didn’t give me a taste, although I would imagine that anything with the word steak in it would be delicious… mm.

    Sunday night was another church service (which meant more attention, Win!) and then the younger people gathered at Beth’s not flat for some hang out time.  For me, that meant floor cleaning duty again! and boy was I successful!  She didn’t have to sweep up one popcorn kernel after that shindig.  Oh, and Shea got pegged in the head with a mobile phone.  I wasn’t worried, since she was laughing, and since I know she has a really hard head, but I do understand now why Shea has to have international insurance.  I guess I’ll have to keep an eye on people in case of violence from now on.

    Right then.  Shea can put this up later.  I’m off to get some rest.  

     

    Scotland Trip: T-3 Days: Preparation, Panic Attacks, and Traveling with Puppies

    Greetings!  It has been nearly a week since I last wrote.  I apologize, especially since I did wish to post each day, but (excuse alert) life got busy, and I’m still working on making blogging a habit.  So, this is going to be a long post.  Buckle your seat belts.

    The weekend was full of activities, kicked off by my brother’s arrival home from army technical training, and my frantic cleaning and organizing of the house as I prepared for his home coming and my friend’s visit on Friday.  Among all of the scrubbing, vacuuming, and putting away, I somehow found time to call the vet and USDA to schedule appointments and ask questions about Oleta’s paperwork, ensure I had all of the paperwork, print and label the paperwork in braille, and have periodic anxiety attacks about whether everything would go smoothly with Oleta’s information.  Okay, not actual panic attacks, just, “Oh dear, is this actually going to work out?  Do I need to call someone to take care of Oleta for four weeks?” sort of attacks.

    Our vet appointment Friday afternoon went fairly well.  Oleta currently ways about 54 pounds.  The kind, USDA accredited doctor at our home vet gave Oleta the once over, declared her healthy, and filled out most of the information regarding Oleta’s background and current state.  It asks questions about her breed and birth information, place of origin, current residence (with me of course), recent vaccine history (especially rabies), and micro chip details, among other things.  We could not fill out the rabies information, as I had forgotten her original rabies certificate, given to me by our vet in Nashville, but she assured me that as long as I brought the certificate to the USDA appointment Monday morning, things should run smoothly.  The appointment didn’t last too long, and soon we headed out with signed papers and a bone-shaped tapeworm treatment tablet for Oleta to take the following week (one of the EU’s many precautions).  That evening was relaxing, spent with my dear friend from high school summer camp, and with my family.  Saturday morning was our neighborhood garage sail (I made 7 dollars… yes!), and my friend and I entertained a few of our potential buyers with improvised renditions of “Amazing Grace” and “Christ be Our Light”, with she playing beautifully on violin, and I on guitar and vocals.  It was a lovely time.

    After her departure, I resumed my search for the rabies certificate, which, no matter how many dorm room boxes and bags I sifted through, did not show itself.  I became progressively more concerned and agitated, which culminated in a brief crying session in my room, due to my pure frustration that I hadn’t put the rabies certificate somewhere safe enough that I could actually find it when I needed it.  It wasn’t a good few hours.  Let’s just say that.

    I eventually forgot my troubles in a nice lunch, and a spontaneous evening rafting trip with my brothers, Dad, and Uncle, and decided that I would contact the Nashville vet on Monday to see if they could fax the certificate directly to the USDA that morning.

    Sunday however, the negative thoughts returned, and I began berating myself all over again.  How could I possibly be responsible enough to go on a mission trip of all things if I couldn’t even keep track of a piece of paper?  What if they don’t accept a faxed certificate from the vet’s office?  Will I have to call Guiding Eyes and find a place for Oleta to go for four weeks?  Why couldn’t I have just put that certificate in my binder right away?  I’m such a failure!

    The thoughts were paralyzing, sickening, and they were stopping me from concentrating on the more important things—putting my faith in Christ and preparing for the trip through study and prayer.  It eventually came to me that perhaps these thoughts weren’t all coming directly from me.  I’m being attacked, I realized suddenly.  Since my salvation, I have always experienced serious spiritual warfare, but they have always been very frontal attacks.  This was something more subtle, and it had caught me off guard.  Still, I know well that the only weapon against spiritual warfare is the Word.  I gritted my teeth, googled bible gateway, and read until I could read no more.  By the time I shut my laptop and let it slide gently to the floor, my faith was restored,; I could forgive my mistakes, and place the situation in God’s hands.  I’m ever so glad God led me to do that, because it made the events of the following morning all the sweeter.

    We left for our appointment at the USDA bright and early, and got there a good amount of time before the scheduled 9:00 Am.  I used the extra time to call the Nashville vet, and request that they fax the rabies form.  Upon signing into the USDA office, it became fairly apparent that the appointment would, in fact, be successful.  The doctor there was perfectly accommodating with regards to the missing rabies sheet, and amiably waited the thirty minutes or so that it took for the fax to arrive.  Finally, I gave Oleta the forward command, and headed out of the federal building with a bundle of stapled, signed, officially stamped papers in my binder.  Praise God!  And I mean that with all the sincerity I can muster!  There’s the scoop!  Oleta’s paperwork is complete, and we are headed to dear old Caledonia on Friday… together!